couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “eggs”

The chicken that laid the golden egg

I hope everyone is having a relaxing and joyous holiday.   I apologize to those who came looking for me the past few months- I was quite overloaded at work and unable to get time to research and post here.  I hope that everyone transitioned from summer cooking to holiday cooking with ease.  If you were able to start early and pack your freezer for the full month, you were ahead of most of us, me included.  We had a few cash flow issues and decided to shop in bits and pieces rather than all at once, and boy, was that a mistake!  As I am sure you have seen, a combination of factors led to a severe shortage of eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, and vegetables.  We survived by having hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries for one holiday meal to my children’s delight.  I raced back to the supermarket Thursday morning and grabbed the chicken before it was put on the shelves and carefully counted out how many tomatoes and cucumbers we will need for the holiday, trying to see what other vegetables could be substituted- even canned! The other shoppers and I were pretty somber as we trudged through the aisles picking up necessities as we went.

What happened this year that caused such shortages?  For each product, there were different reasons:

Eggs:

Misrad HaChaklaut has been warning us of an egg shortage since highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) hit the poultry industry this spring in addition to closing the doors to imported eggs from Turkey.  Other countries have been exporting to Israel, most notably Spain (ES), but the increased time it takes from laying to landing in the supermarket has caused shelf life problems as well.  At the beginning of this week a shipment of six million eggs was diverted to a pasteurization facility because they arrived 10 days late.  That would leave only six days from the date of arrival at the egg grading facility to the end of the sell-by date.  The government approved the import of 7 million eggs without meches for September as a replacement for the lost eggs.

Chicken:

Between the Jewish holidays and the Muslim/Druze holiday of Eid al Adha (“The festival of the sacrifice” or chag hakorban), there weren’t any workers left in the slaughterhouses to process chicken.  Beef, which has a much longer shelf life than chicken, wasn’t affected.

Cottage cheese:

The constant flow of holidays-Shabbat-holidays also affected production of cottage cheese, which needs 24 hours straight to produce and has a shelf life of only 12 days.  The price didn’t go up as far as I could see, but there was barely any to be had on the shelves.

Vegetables:

That heat wave we had the past two months didn’t zap only us- it also zapped the vegetables attempting to grow in 50C greenhouses.   Not only that, but a new virus has claimed the lives of vegetables in the South, exacerbating the shortage.  In comparison to chicken and cottage cheese, vegetable prices have skyrocketed because…well…it isn’t exactly clear why they should be so much more expensive than the other products that have a limited supply.  The wholesale price did rise somewhat but the supermarkets are taking a huge profit margin and that is what is causing the high prices.  Tomatoes that have a wholesale price of 3.75 shekels/kg are sold to the consumer at 8.70 shekels/kg- even 10 shekels/kg.  The wholesale price of cherry tomatoes was decided by the Grower’s Council to be 12.50-13.00 shekels/kg but they are being sold to the consumer at 20-25 shekels/kg. (You can check out wholesale/retail prices on the Ministry of Agriculture web site)

How to stop the price gouging?  Many say that increasing import of vegetables will force competition and therefore lower prices.  Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel has:

“…instructed Ministry of Agriculture personnel to enable extensive imports of fruits and vegetables at this time and with greater ease from Jordan and other countries. The aim is to overcome the shortage and bring prices down to their original level, while at the same time ensuring that these measures will not cause damage to farmers or to Israeli produce.”

While this sounds lovely, the truth is that no matter how low the wholesale price is, nothing is preventing the supermarket chains from doubling- even tripling the wholesale price.  In fact, this was seen when the import tax was removed from apples- the prices actually went up! See my post about it here.  The same with canned tuna- the import tax is gradually going down, but retail prices have stayed the same.  So unless the government steps in and limits the markup on newly-tax-free items, the only people who are benefiting from these tax breaks are the supermarket chain owners- not the consumers.  Hopefully the consumers’ unions will realize the futility of lowering taxes and push for more meaningful solutions.

To end this post on a positive note, below is a poor copy of a chart from yesterday’s Mekor Rishon showing the change in prices since 2011.  Red is fruits/vegetables, green is housing prices, tan is food without fruits/vegetables, yellow is house maintenance, and pink is furniture and house supplies.  Except for a blip in 2013, everything has gone down since 2011, and a few items even went into minus.  Maybe the message here is that we need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

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Increased meat/egg smuggling and illegal production during the holiday season

The holiday season is usually characterized by an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle meat originating from the Palestinian Authority, an increase in the rate of illegal slaughter, and an increase in attempts to illegally produce eggs and forge their markings. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development attributes the increase in these illegal activities to the high potential for profit these products offer as the demand for them increases. The inspectors of the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit  (Pitzuach) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development invest a huge amount of time and effort during this period in an attempt to stop smuggling attempts, illegal slaughter, and the forging of animal products, in light of the real threat to public health posed by the possibility that these products, which were produced and slaughtered without veterinary supervision, will be consumed by the public. The inspectors operate based on intelligence information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the areas located between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, in warehouses and in points of sale. 488,790 eggs, 182,233 tons of chicken meat and beef and 676 tons of cheese were seized and destroyed following an order issued by a veterinary doctor this past week alone.

During the weekend, a house in which beef was illegally slaughtered without veterinary supervision was found in Lod. The quantity of beef found in the apartment was especially large – 1 ton. The meat was destroyed following an order issued by a veterinary doctor, and criminal charges were presses against the suspects involved.

In addition, the inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture seized during the weekend a truck attempting to smuggle 4 tons of meat, originating from the Judea and Samaria area in the Palestinian Authority, and intended to be sold in Israel. The truck was caught at the Hotze Shomron checkpoint. The driver, a resident of the central region of Israel in his late 30s, was detained, and criminal charges were pressed against him.

An illegal egg production facility was also found during the weekend. The inspectors of the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, together with officers of the Israeli Border Police and IDF soldiers, raided an egg sorting facility located in the Hevron area, in which eggs were marked in order to make them seem “kosher for sale”. Eggs in the facility were marked with forged stamps of a well-known and certified sorting facility in Israel, and with “kosher for Passover” marks, to make them seem authentic. Forging measures for marking the eggs and 27,000 eggs were seized on location and in a nearby warehouse.

Source: Misrad HaChaklaut web site

For tips on how and where to purchase meat and eggs, check out Aliyah tip #9: buying meat, fish and eggs.

illegal slaughter

Turkish eggs found to have pesticide residues

Misrad HaChaklaut announced today that during a routine test of eggs imported from Turkey, they discovered pesticide residues of an amount that is above the legal limit in Israel.  As a result of this, all imports from that region will be tested for pesticide residues before being released for sale.

Did you know that Israel produces 2 billion eggs a year, and that is still not enough to supply the Israeli public? Israel therefore has to import approximately 150 million eggs a year, especially around Pesach and Rosh HaShanah.  For comparison, the United States produces 75 billion eggs per year and Australia produces 392 million dozen.    To date, eggs are imported into Israel from Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The Misrad HaChaklaut article doesn’t say what pesticide residue was found or whether this has happened before.  It also doesn’t say what happened to the contaminated eggs- there hasn’t been a recall, so where did they go?  Where they held until the test results came back or did we eat those eggs?  Not a pleasant thought.

The Marker shows a different perspective of the countries that export eggs to Israel:

מאיפה מגיעות הביצים המיובאות

They also reminded us of the media storm surrounding the importing of eggs from Turkey in 2012 because in Turkey there is no requirement to vaccinate their chickens for Salmonella, as there is in Israel.  At the same time, a study came out in the Poultry Science journal which showed an incidence of 60% Salmonella positive flocks in Turkey, 70% of which being Salmonella Enteritidis, a particularly pathogenic strain of Salmonella that caused a recall of approximately 500 million eggs in the United States in 2010.  Because of this information, pressure was put on Misrad HaChaklaut to enforce the decades-old law which requires egg sorting stations to label which country eggs are produced in.

For more information about eggs in Israel, check out Aliyah tip #1: Understanding eggs (2015 update)

Comments?

Important: Buying eggs on Pesach

While perusing different forums I see that there is a lot of misinformation being promulgated about eggs on Pesach.  Here is what you need to know:

  1. The dye that is used to stamp eggs on Pesach is KLP.
  2. Eggs have to be stamped on Pesach in exactly the same manner as throughout the year.  Eggs without a stamp on them are ILLEGALLY PRODUCED OR IMPORTED EGGS and should not be purchased.  Report all unstamped eggs to the Ministry of Health at *5400.
  3. Make sure the eggs you purchase are from someone licensed to do so- last year the eggs pictured below were smuggled in from Hebron with “KLP” stamps:

    Source: Kol Chai

  4. Tnuva put out a statement regarding their KLP eggs.  The following is a condensed translation:

“For many years people have been strict in not purchasing eggs that have been stamped because of the suspicion that there may be chametz in the dye used to stamp the eggs.  Unscrupulous people take advantage of this stricture and sell unstamped eggs that have not been supervised by the authorities and may be a risk to public health in addition to being against the law.

Because of this, Tnuva with cooperation of the Badatz Eidah Charedit has spent considerable effort and money to procure a dye that has no suspicion of chametz in it.  All eggs produced by Tnuva at this time are using this dye and are stamped כ. פסח.  This year mashgichim from Badatz Eidah Charedit have supervised this process and these eggs are sold with a special permit that states that the dye used is without chametz.

An interesting point to note is that the chemical of concern in the dye is an alcohol, which evaporates immediately when the egg is stamped and is therefore not present when the eggs are consumed.”

For more general information about purchasing eggs in Israel such as storage temperature, washing of eggs and more, check out my previous post Aliyah tip #1- understanding eggs.

Egg prices are going down!

The Ministry of Agriculture has announced the new lowered price of eggs that come under price regulation, which includes a package of 12 “regular” eggs (not omega, organic, or free range):

Egg weight (grams) Egg size New price (inc. Ma’am) Old price (inc.Ma’am) New price in Eilat (inc. Ma’am) Old price in EIlat (inc. Ma’am)
over 73 grams  XL 13.20 13.60 11.20 11.50
63-73 grams  L 12.10 12.50 10.25 10.60
53-63 grams  M 11.20 11.50 9.50 9.75

***In the interest of public health, consumers are advised to only purchase eggs in closed packages.

Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t tricking you- the new price is only 3% lower than the previous price, which is similar to the last price adjustment in November 2013, which was lowered 3.3%.

Source: Misrad HaChaklaut

ביצים

Police stop smuggling effort of 36,000 eggs from Shechem

Police at the Maale Adumim stopped a vehicle that came through the Oranit checkpoint from Shechem with 36,000 eggs headed for the Israeli market illegally.    The driver is a resident of East Jerusalem.  The eggs were transferred to the Pitzuach unit of the Ministry of Agriculture for further consideration.

Source: Hadashot Adumim

For more information about how important it is not to eat eggs smuggled over the border (without stamps or with fake stamps), read my previous post.

Photo: ‎על פי מידע מודיעיני  של תחנת מעלה אדומים הועבר דיווח למחסום אורנית על רכב שיצא משכם עם 36,000 ביצים מוברחות.
הרכב החשוד נתפס עם הביצים המוברחות הנהג תושב מזרח י-ם והביצים עברו לטיפול יחידת פיצו"ח.‎

 

Misrad HaBriut and Misrad HaChinuch: Don’t reuse egg containers for crafts

Misrad HaBriut publicized new recommendations this week in response to the increased reuse of egg containers for crafts.  Because of the known presence of Salmonella bacteria  in eggs (particularly on the egg shell) and because it is impossible to sufficiently clean egg containers to destroy Salmonella, Misrad HaBriut recommends not to reuse egg containers.  Misrad HaChinuch has adopted this recommendation and forbids the reuse of egg containers in educational institutions.

Misrad HaBriut expands the recommendation of Misrad HaChinuch to include rehabilitation centers, old age homes, hospitals, and psychiatric centers.

You can read the directive on the Misrad HaBriut web site (Hebrew).

For more information about reducing your risk of Salmonella from eggs, go to the CDC web site.

אין להשתמש בתבניות ביצים משומשות מחשש להמצאות סלמונלה בתבניות

What is in the eggs you eat?

It seems that the Israeli media can’t get enough of exposes lately, especially in the food department.

This week it is Channel 2  who is talking about food.  Yesterday they did an expose on surprisingly unpleasant things that end up in your eggs- carcinogenic cleaning products, antibiotics meant for broiler chickens (“petem”), and more.

You can watch the video here.(Hebrew)

For those who didn’t understand the Hebrew, here are some of the things they found:

  • piles of poultry “litter” (waste) so high they reach the eggs
  • dispensing of forbidden antibiotics to poultry owners without a prescription by a veterinarian
  • dispensing of a sanitiser by a veterinarian that is forbidden to be used in, on or near animals because it is carcinogenic
  • discrepancy in withdrawal times for antibiotics between Israel and other countries (withdrawal times are the time an animal has to wait before it can be slaughtered so there will be no residue in the food- a shorter time means more residues)
  • violations of antibiotic residue in poultry and eggs
  • the mounds of poultry litter described above are fed to cattle- something that is permitted in the US but not in Europe [note: it is not fed to animals that are part of the direct food chain].
  • These practices are known to Misrad HaHaklaut but nothing has been done to stop it, despite complaints from veterinarians.

Misrad HaHaklaut’s response?  “This is a very serious issue and will be dealt with.  We have new guidance documents that address this issue and will increase the level of supervision in these areas.  Poultry litter is treated to destroy pathogens before being fed to cattle.”

How do you feel about this article? If you have something to say to Misrad HaHaklaut on this matter, you can write to them here.  Don’t be afraid to write in English.  If you are really angry (or you don’t think you will get a proper response from Misrad HaHaklaut), you can write to the Ombudsman- Mevaker HaMedina and they will follow through with your complaint.  You can write to them in English here or in Hebrew here.  These forms are for all complaints, by the way.

 

6500 eggs smuggled into Israel from the PA caught and destroyed

Misrad Hachaklaut announced the capture and destruction of 6500 eggs that were smuggled into Israel under unsanitary conditions and without temperature control.  The eggs entered from the Nachal Iron area by a local resident and were to be sold in the North.

Since January 2013, there have been 151 incidents of egg smuggling and approximately 1.7 million have been captured and destroyed.

Eggs from the Palestinian Authority are forbidden to be sold in Israel because there is no veterinary supervision of the hens and their eggs, there is no possiblity to ensure sanitary conditions of packaging and marketing and a lack of temperature control.  Eggs have to be maintained below 20C according to Israeli law.

For more information about eggs and egg smuggling, check out this post.

When might you suspect that your eggs are illegally imported?

  • They are stored above 20C
  • They have no stamp, an illegible stamp, or the stamp is not printed accoring to the regulations (see previous post)
  • They are not sold in a reputable supermarket chain

Source: The Marker

What foods are price controlled in Israel?

With the notification that the price of whipping cream 38% and gevina levana 5% will now be controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture I thought it would be best for consumers to know exactly what products are controlled and what the price should be.  Stores are not allowed to charge more than the maximum price.

Controlled by the Ministry of Finance:

  • Bread
  • Salt

Controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture:

  • Milk
  • Certain cheeses
  • Butter
  • Certain dairy products
  • Eggs (12 pack only)

Prices (including 18% maam):

  • Lechem achid (keheh) or white bread (unwrapped)- 750 grams for 5.11 shekels (4.33 in Eilat)
  • Challah or yeast bread- 500 grams for 5.58 shekels (4.73 in Eilat)
  • Lechem achid (keheh) or white bread (wrapped)- 750 grams for 7.67 shekels (6.50 in Eilat)
  • Wrapped sliced white bread- 500 grams for 6.82 shekels (5.78 in Eilat)
  • Regular kitchen salt, “excellent” kitchen salt, “excellent” table salt,  “excellent” kosher salt- 1 kg for 2.09 shekels (1.77 in Eilat)
  • 3% milk in 1L bags- 5.28 shekels (4.47 in Eilat)
  • 1% milk in 1L bags- 4.95 shekels (4.20 in Eilat)
  • 3% milk in 1L cartons- 6.54 shekels (5.55 in Eilat)
  • 1% milk in 1L cartons- 6.11 shekels (5.18 in Eilat)
  • Eshel 4.5% fat – 200 grams for 1.66 shekels (1.44 in Eilat)
  • Gil 3% fat- 200 grams for 1.52 shekels (1.29 in Eilat)
  • Sour cream 15% fat- 200 ml for 2.47 shekels (2.09 in Eilat)
  • Butter in 100 gram packages for 4.08 shekels (3.46 in Eilat)
  • Emek cheese- 1kg for 45.96 shekels (38.95 in Eilat)
  • Gilboa cheese- 1kg for 43.72 shekels (37.05 in Eilat)
  • Extra large eggs- 14 shekels (11.90 in Eilat)
  • Large eggs- 12.90 shekels (10.95 in Eilat)
  • Medium eggs- 11.90 shekels (10.10 in Eilat)

Prices are valid as of 2 June 2013.

Want to read more?  Click here to read Part 2.

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